The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.  Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The beleaguered SABC is expecting to end the 2016-17 financial year with a staggering net loss of R1.1bn, Parliament heard Tuesday.

The financially hamstrung public broadcaster recorded a loss of R411m in the 2015-16 financial year, up from R395m the previous year.

SABC executives and members of the SABC interim board briefed Parliament’s communications portfolio committee on the corporation’s fourth-quarter expenditure and performance report.

Acting SABC group CEO Tseliso Ralitabo told MPs that the broadcaster recorded an operating loss of R509m for the fourth quarter ended March 31, which exceeded the budgeted loss of R137m.

The public broadcaster is in deep financial trouble and many suggest that it is on the brink of collapse as it struggles to meet its obligations, including the payment of service providers.

The crisis has become so severe that its board took a decision to stop payments to nonexecutive directors until the financial situation improves.

The broadcaster has approached National Treasury for a government guarantee of about R1bn.

Ralitabo said the subdued performance was mainly attributable to declining advertising revenue across all platforms coupled with deteriorating TV licence fees collection.

Expenses performed better than budget, which had cushioned the SABC from bigger losses, said Ralitabo.

"A decline in revenue sources, cost to deliver on the mandate, personnel costs and capital expenditure projects are the main contributing factors to the SABC’s current financial position.

"Certain un-researched decisions, such as the implementation of the 90/10 local music and 80/20 local content quotas on SABC 3, further impacted on the decline of audience numbers and revenue," he said.

DA MP and communications spokeswoman Phumzile Van Damme said suspended chief financial officer and former acting CEO James Aguma, and former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was on Monday dismissed from the public broadcaster, should both be held accountable for the financial crisis at the SABC.

Motsoeneng was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing. He faced charges of bringing the SABC into disrepute after holding a media briefing in which he publicly criticised the interim board and the decision to reverse his 90% policy.

Aguma was recently suspended pending the conclusion of an investigation into procurement and expenditure irregularities at the SABC.

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